Our ambition is to create a world-class museum, research and education centre – connecting West Africa’s ancient heritage to its thriving contemporary arts and culture.
EMOWAA will be a hub for contemporary creatives in Africa and equip a new generation of Africans to be leaders in heritage management.
THE EMOWAA COMPLEX
Rebuilding cultural and creative infrastructure
The Edo Museum of West African Art will be a monument and home for the most comprehensive antiquities from West Africa. A civic and cultural space, the Museum will highlight, rediscover and preserve the rich history of West African culture and the heritage of the Benin Kingdom.
The Museum will sit at the cusp of the wider Creative District in Benin – an intimate campus within the ancient Bini Kingdom walls with platforms for display, interaction and commerce.
Its constellation of facilities will showcase digital, performance and visual art inspired by the rich local history and projecting its living culture into the future.
These installations will be curated by the first building of the Complex, the EMOWAA Pavilion - the main collections facility and a centre of excellence for research, digital programming and heritage management. The knowledge generated here will be expressed in dynamic outreach programmes, practical learning and in surrounding historic landscape.
ẹ mọ wa
Redefining notions of community through new publics and collectives
WHAT WE DO
Igniting scholarship, education and creativity
Beyond its impressive collection of artefacts, EMOWAA will be an ever-growing repository of indigenous knowledge on Benin and African heritage. Its expansive physical archive and digital library will stock and enable public access to objects, oral histories, photography and other resources critical to recontextualise the story of these great civilisations.
Located in the heart of the thousand-year-old Benin City, EMOWAA will serve as a model and facilitator for responsible heritage management with best practices in collection, preservation, restoration, and museum building globally. In the wider creative district, EMOWAA will create economic opportunities for creative professionals with a focus on skills, collaboration and links to real markets.
EMOWAA will provide access to the technology and research capacity for archaeology and materials science study. Its annual research programmes and workshops will sustainably attract the best creatives and thinkers, equipping them with relevant skills for application across a wide array of sectors.
With world-class exhibition spaces and digital platforms, EMOWAA will exhibit the world’s most comprehensive collection of West African antiquities, displaying them in their historic and social contexts. Combined with outreach and high quality publications, EMOWAA’s initiatives will deepen public appreciation of the place of African heritage in global culture.
One of the greatest challenges for museums and heritage institutions in Africa is relevancy and connection to contemporary African society. We need to build institutions and infrastructure that celebrate the rich traditions of the past. At the same time, we must support skill sets and knowledge that enable opportunities in the present.
The restitution of heritage objects to Africa from the West is not just an opportunity to reinvigorate cultural infrastructure and heritage. It is the push to re-imagine the role of museums and transform their connections to and support for the contemporary creative. That is what EMOWAA is about. This is why we are here.
— Phillip Ihenacho, Executive Director